Every minute, eight women are victims of aggression in the country, according to data from the Brazilian Public Security Forum. The social isolation imposed by the covid-19 pandemic has aggravated this situation and, although the number of complaints has also increased, the rate of violence has only increased, taking into account underreported cases and non-formal (non-judicial) complaints.
This is a speech that looks like a scratched record, which repeats itself endlessly, but, unfortunately, this is an everyday representation of Brazilian macho society. And the worst: it becomes, more and more, a distant noise to our ears.
For women in conditions of social vulnerability, accepting violence can be payment for their own survival
Every time a woman reports a crime of domestic violence, the need to talk about it resurfaces. Every time a crime against women has repercussions in the corporate media and on the internet, surviving victims of this violence suffer from the dark memory of what was lived and the regret and regret for not having reported it in time.
The pandemic has exposed the underreporting not only of the virus, but of this violence that is rooted in patriarchal society. The underreporting of cases of domestic violence did not start to exist during the pandemic, it has always walked alongside these crimes.
In an abusive relationship fraught with physical and psychological violence, in most cases, the woman has only two paths and both culminate in dire consequences. For various reasons, the woman accepts the cycle of violence and ends up being killed, either at the hands of her aggressor, or because of the poor quality of life imposed by the physical and psychological trauma caused in the long term.
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The other can be considered lucky and is when the woman has a minimum family support network and manages to escape from life alongside the aggressor. However, this is a long way to go. First, because there are several reasons that prevent her from formally denouncing the author. Second, because from that point onwards, a series of emotional disorders began to be part of this woman’s life. Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of them and can also be fatal.
There are many reasons why countless women do not denounce their tormentors. The reasons why the victim of violence chooses to stay in the abusive relationship are so many and far too profound. There is a fine line between staying or leaving, which confuses the victim about surviving and losing everything.
For women in conditions of social vulnerability, accepting violence can be payment for their own survival. Living in a violent home may be better than not having a home, tolerating continual violations may be better than starving and not being able to support your children. But for those who manage to free themselves from this life, too, their right to denounce is not always protected.
The cyclical nature of violence allows damage to linger for years on end
The difficulty of reporting is a reality for many survivors who are victims of domestic violence. And it starts in the family and social sphere itself, which discredits and blames the victim. This cruel belief imposed by the patriarchy, that the woman is to blame, further destroys the victim, who is already completely fragile and vulnerable. And it is here that many find themselves silenced, forced to move forward without being able to formally denounce to the competent bodies.
It is necessary to talk about traumas
It is necessary to talk about the consequent traumas in the life of women who have suffered physical, psychological and/or sexual violence. There is a lot of talk about the phases of the cycle during violence, however, little is said about post-traumatic disorder in these cases. The fact is that most surviving victims go through this phase, which is often aggravated by other types of disorders and this is also part of domestic violence.
This cyclical nature of violence allows the damage to last for years on end until the woman has the psychic, material and social conditions to seek criminal protection, a hypothesis not even considered by most victims, who remain silent, inert by the fear that the corrodes.
Amidst disorders and traumas, when a woman manages to acquire the necessary conditions to seek legal support and do justice, it is already too late. And this is what has been revealed in public cases, because the courts do not guarantee a deadline for this. Institutional violence often happens in cases of flagrante delicto, when assistance is denied, imagine if justice will guarantee reception and investigation of late complaints?
Not to mention that offenses in the crime of domestic violence have their own application under the Penal Code. Criminal offenses as a de facto and threat route, for example, expire in three years. In other words, a woman who took a long time to get out of the violent cycle that made her psychologically ill will find it enormously difficult to receive legal protection after these crimes are prescribed. Furthermore, the weakness and decay in the recognition of what qualifies as evidence or not is frustrating.
That’s why I decided to write
And that’s exactly why I decided to write this article. I was a victim of domestic violence five years ago, for two long years. And the factor that most kept me from reporting my attacker was fear. The fact of making the attacks public made me afraid of the exposure that I would have to face alone, in addition to losing the job that the aggressor had “found” for me.
The slapping in the face, the bite on my face that I had to hide with makeup to go to work, the hair pulling and punching, are currently part of the worst phase of what I went through. Not having a sense of justice and having survived physical violence alone cost me my own health. It was a hard and long five years affected by psychiatric disorders and chronic illnesses with a psychosomatic background until I could have the emotional balance to talk about it without suffering psychotic episodes.
Every time a case like mine gains public repercussions I am shaken, as are many other women I have known since I used my social media to write about the abuses I experienced. The most shocking thing was to see that not only are there many cases of violence, but that most of these women did not report it either. My virtual host network does me good, but, on the other hand, it makes me angry. This indignation comes from not having been welcomed by close people who today are virtually fighters for the end of violence against women whenever a case comes to light.
Indignation tears my chest when I look for legal protection and I’m ridiculed for the time I let go without having filed a complaint. As was the case with lawyers I consulted recently. There is, then, a low effectiveness of the law and the great need for its reformulation, even with regard to psychosocial and humanized care.
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The violence I suffered was not far behind, in the past. It has had drastic consequences for my life and it does not cease to exist because a few years have passed.
Society will only advance in the eradication of violence against women when it stops discrediting the victims and allowing the perpetrators to go on with life naturally. This is not an individual problem, it is a social problem, collective, of a sick society that, without seeing it, flirts with fascism and, increasingly, destroys social rights and exterminates women, blacks and LGBTS.
Let it be noted that the aggressor is faceless. He can be by your side, be your friend, your brother, your son, your neighbor, your boss. He can be that nice guy that people’s first impulse will be to say “So and so? That’s a lie, he’s a very good person”. The aggressors are among us, on a daily basis, wearing masks to protect themselves from justice and not from the virus.
Don’t doubt when a woman says she was assaulted, don’t blame her, don’t defend the aggressor in front of her. Because she is struggling to survive the scars that will never be healed on her soul, body and mind. You who have not gone through this do not know how this pain is.
My struggle to overcome this is daily and I will continue to create forces hand in hand with other women who are also fighting for women’s liberation, justice and the end of the culture of violence against women. Seeking to encourage, through my own experience, that other women are able and courageous to report their aggressors. It’s not easy, but only those who saw death up close know the taste of being a survivor.
Don’t shut up, report it! Down to the patriarchy!
*Lyvia Prais is a journalist and member of the Minas Gerais PT Women’s Collective.
**This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the newspaper’s editorial line Brazil in fact.
Source: BoF Minas Gerais
Edition: Elis Almeida